Subscribe to my mailing list!

Love's Labyrinth

Reverse Engineering Dating as a Game Of Pachinko

There’s a distinction between complicated and complex in the context of the English language; complicated things carry the heavy implication of difficulty, while complex things do not. Interestingly, the opposite seems to be implied in the world of engineering. Complicated systems with complicated problems are predictable, while complex systems with complex problems are not. Understanding romantic relationships and how they form is both complicated and complex, in every sense of the word. I think this process can be likened to creating a topic model– extract latent themes and connections between individuals, and uncover the underlying structure of our interactions and emotions.

One perspective on dating and relationships posits that while women hold the keys to sex, men hold the keys to relationships. According to this view, both genders hold these keys hostage until they get what they want from a single person. However, it’s worth noting that this perspective doesn’t account for homosexual relationships and overlooks that some women are actively disinterested in relationships, or some men may lack sex drives. Therefore, this discussion is focused on populations not falling into any of these three categories.

From a high level, dating comprises two major components: personal and sexual compatibility. These components are complex, encompassing a wide variety of traits, but I’m abstracting them away for now, because distilling complex personalities and desires into smaller, manageable categories will allow us to navigate the dating landscape with a clearer focus. Let’s assume that when both, personal and sexual components are satisfied, a relationship can be considered stable. It doesn’t matter whether these conditions are consistently satisfied; what matters is that they average out enough to yield a stable relationship, or more accurately– a lack of breakup. However, this doesn’t account for the fact that in a Society, people interact with and consider others as potential partners even when they are already in a relationship. This concept is akin to an unsolved problem in computer science known as the stable marriage problem. While the optimal algorithm for this problem hasn’t been found yet, in practice, people still navigate their way into healthy, lasting relationships— it’s just a matter of figuring out how. Much like the central limit theorem, where random variables converge to a normal distribution, the diversity of individuals in the dating pool can lead to surprisingly consistent patterns in human attraction and behavior. This theorem reminds us that even amidst the chaos of dating, certain trends prevail.

As we delve deeper into the complexities of the dating landscape, it’s worth considering the 80-20 rule of online dating, which suggests that the top 80% of female attention often goes to the top 20% of men. However, whether this rule holds in the real world is a topic of debate. This discrepancy could be due to a combination of response and selection bias present in the data collected from dating apps. But considering the widespread rise of the manosphere, it’s evident that many males feel that the real-life dating market does not favor them. These men are left with whatever sexual scraps they can get. And for those men of that certain powerful tier, having a girlfriend is simply a choice; these are the men who don’t find it hard to find a cheap hookup. These are the men that are so attractive, girls find it fun and hot to give themselves up to these guys for even just a single evening– a risky behavior, no matter how you spin it. Consequently, these boys and men have lots of sex keys at their disposal– and sometimes, somehow, they manage to break out of their cycle of solitude and meaningless rutting, and decide that they want a girlfriend. But that doesn’t mean he’s ready for one or that this will yield a successful relationship. Sometimes, what appears perfect on the surface isn’t.

The devil’s in the details, and I think approaching dating with flexible precision is beneficial. By this, I mean that knowing what you want and what you need is a strong aid to finding a partner, and not just merely an attractive person to have casual sex with. I mean, if that’s what you’re looking for, all the power to you. I totally see the appeal; sex is fun. I’m fully convinced that misogyny is still present in full force, though, and I truly hate being treated exclusively like an object. Obviously, I enjoy objectifying myself (because what woman doesn’t enjoy dressing up and being admired?), but that should be noted separately from my humanity. I’d compare it to the suspension of disbelief during a movie. But that doesn’t mean I want to be treated like an object. Objects don’t make good significant others. And I sure would appreciate having a genuine partner-in-crime with whom I feel truly in step. We navigate through a maze of choices, hoping to align our goals and desires with someone who shares our trajectory, all while contending with an element of chance— think Pachinko.

“You don’t have to do that,” he says. I know I don’t, honey. But I’m not going to be sticking around for long if you don’t let me. Consider that I clearly want to stick around, considering that I’m doing it in the first place.